Posted in Dairy Queen, Mark Roberts, Rantoul is a place in Illinois, The Amoralists, the playwright also created Mike and Molly for tv

"Rantoul and Die:" For better or worse

The prolific theater troupe, the Amoralists are dedicated to producing works that pass no moral judgement.
Now, that’s just plain wrong! Honestly, can anyone of us go for even a half a day without making some kind of evaluation of good, bad, better, worst.

The cast of “Rantoul and Die: Derek Ahonen as Rallis, Sarah Lemp as Debbie, Matthew Pilieci as Gary and
Vanessa Vache as Callie. Photo by Russ Rowland

In their latest foray into absurdist realism, “Rantoul and Die” at the Cherry Lane Studio Theatre through July 20th, the Amoralists take an unjaundiced look at four working stiffs settled into their middle American lives, working at the Dairy Queen and paying off the mortgage. What lies behind and deep underneath their ordinary everyday?

Sarah Lemp as Debbie cleans up some of the mess Rallis (Derek Ahonen) has made in their home.
Photo by Russ Rowland.

Mark Roberts’ “Rantoul and Die” is about a marriage that’s raced so far off he path that it’s left skid marks on everybody. Rallis (Derek Ahonen) whines mightily to his friend Gary (Matthew Pilieci) about his wife, Debbie (Sarah Lemp) tossing him out. Heartbreak was never intended to be this funny.

Gary (Matthew Pilieci) and Rallis (Derek Ahonen) in “Rantoul and Die.”
Photo by Russ Rowland

“Your heart is broke?,” Gary says to Rallis. “Boo-fucking-hoo. Everybody’s heart is broke. Why don’t we all put up a billboard…. Wouldn’t be able to find a fuckin’ Wendy’s.” Rallis responds that he’s just “tenderhearted. Things land on me harder than most.” In short, Rallis does not want to move on as advised by Gary and ordered by Debbie. He’d rather take his grief counsellor’s advice to “process” his loss.

Sarah Lemp as Debbie and Matthew Pilieci as Gary.
Photo by Russ Rowland.

The entertaining play, written by the creator of television’s Mike and Molly, and directed by Jay Stull, mixes improbable violence with exhilirating hi-jinx. The ensemble, rounded out by the appearance of Callie (Vanessa Vache) in the second act, are all superlative.

For more information about “Rantoul and Die,” visit